“I can’t imagine having found a better place, or better people,” Professor David Hadley told the Wabash community crowded into Rogge Lounge Tuesday to celebrate his 43 years of service on the eve of his retirement from the College.
Tuesday’s gathering was the second such celebration: Senior political science majors surprised Hadley last Wednesday with an impromptu reception in the Baxter Hall lobby, joined by President White and many faculty and staff cheering the professor and former Dean of Students after he taught his final class at Wabash.
“I feel like I’m the most fortunate, the luckiest person in the world—and lucky for getting the job at Wabash in the first place,” said Hadley, smiling and recounting his initial interview for the position at Wabash. He was finishing grad school at Indiana University and working on his dissertation, and his wife, Sheridan, was pregnant with their first child and did not intend to work after their daughter was born. Providing financial support for the family was about to become his responsibility.
“My scholarships and fellowships were running out, I could expect maybe $1,800 the next year for completing my dissertation. And just about that time I got a call from my advisor saying, “Hadley, how’d you like to go work at Wabash College?”
The young grad student called Political Science Professor George Lipsky and was invited for an interview, then had dinner with the department and division chairs, where he managed to avoid the subject of his unfinished dissertation.
“[Professor of Religion] Eric Dean asked me a question about it, but fortunately Warren Shearer was there and he started arguing with Eric Dean, so I got to carry on another conversation with other people in the department so they never found out.”
“Then as I was leaving, I stepped off the sidewalk and turned around to talk with [Professor of Political Science] Phil Mikesell and stumbled over the tree trunk out there and almost broke my neck. So when I say I’m lucky to have gotten the job, I mean it, and in many ways.”
Wabash was equally fortunate. Hadley became not only an award-winning teacher and leader in the political science department and College, but in the community and statewide, as well.
The winner of the College’s top teaching prize in 1990, Hadley was president of the South Montgomery School Board from 1986 to 1992, was senior fellow for legislative relations in the Office of the Governor of Indiana from 1990 to 1991, was appointed to the Indiana States Ethics Commission Governor Evan Bayh in 1992 and served as chairman from 1995 to 1998. His regular trips with students to Washington D.C. to see the inner workings of government anticipated the College’s immersion trip program, and his “Fly Fishing: THE Liberal Art” course was the first freshman tutorial to take new students on an immersion study experience before their classes on campus began.
As dean of students, Hadley instituted the Midnight Munch, the study break halfway through finals week when faculty and staff prepare breakfast in the Sparks Center for their hard working students. Hadley was back on that serving line Tuesday night.
At Tuesday afternoon’s reception, Hadley expressed gratitude for “colleagues who were very important in bringing me here, in mentoring me here, but cannot be here today. I think of people like [Professor of Economics] Steve Schmutte and [Professor of Psychology] Eldon Parks, people who brought me into the college community and helped me understand what this place was all about.”
“So I’m lucky to have gotten the job, I’m fortunate to have such wonderful colleagues, faculty and staff over these 43 years, lucky to teach interesting and challenging students,” Hadley concluded. “Thank you all for coming; I’ll miss you all.”